It’s 2014 and women have made key strides in many centers of power like politics, entrepreneurship and corporate**, but we still lag behind in one key area: MONEY.
[** I understand that there is a LONG way to go for equal power in these areas, but I’m acknowledging and celebrating the strides made to date. ]
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women still earn about 81 cents for every dollar men make. Yes, that’s a long way from the 59 cents per male dollar back in 1963 when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law.
So far in fact that tomorrow, April 8th is Equal Pay Day here in the US. This date symbolizes how far into 2014 women must work to earn what men earned in 2013.
Let me make this even more clear: You know that job at which you’ve been toiling away? The one where you’ve been coming in early and staying late, going above and beyond for your team and over delivering for your manager? Chances are you are underpaid.
The average woman would need to work an extra 69 days to make the same as her male peers. If you are African- American (69 cents for every male dollar)1 or Latina (54 cents), your chances increase. In addition, today more than ever, equal pay is imperative for families as well because now over 50% of all US households have women breadwinners.2
Want more details on your equal pay rights? Check out the DOL Equal Pay Guide
It’s been 51 years since Equal Pay became law, so if we are doing the same work today, why can’t we still earn the same pay?
There are a lot of reasons and factors for this. I’m not going into all of them, but I will address some of the ones that you can control.
One way to command the money we deserve is to ask for it. I did an entire mini-workshop on this. Check it out: Negotiations 101
Another way is to plan for it.
Here are 5 ways to Earn Your Worth & Make More MONEY. Hint: An easy way to remember these tips is to use the acronym, MONEY. Write the action steps down in your journals (see =>) and take action!
1) MAKE your MONEY plan.
To command more money and control it, you have to respect it. Understand exactly how much money is going in and out of your household each month and where it is going. Know your FLOAT number. Exactly how much you need to bring in each month to pay all your bills and put money in your savings. Most banks enable you to download your credit card and checking transactions, pull all this info into Excel or just use a free personal finance tool like Mint.com. It’s painful in the beginning, but once you do you can take control and start making more strategic decisions.
For example, once I realized my daily tea drinking was a money vacuum, I stopped my almost daily Starbucks Chai Latte habit. Instead, I drink the tea bag version with milk or make my own homemade recipe. I also found that SBUX makes the chai latte from a concentrate I can buy from Target for 1/4 the price. It’s all about small changes – baby steps – that you can make over time. I still have my chai latte from SBUX sometimes, just not every day.
=> Understand your FLOAT number.
2) OWN your uniqueness.
Every person on the planet is unique. Instead of trying to swim in a sea of sameys, start creating a career based on what you are good at. I call it your Personal Competitive Advantage.™ I teach my clients to how identify their Personal Competitive Advantage™ and how to leverage it in their career and in their personal brand.
If you need help, check out Now, Discover Your Strengths from Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. Be sure to buy a new copy with the strengths finder quiz code.
=> Write down the top three things in which you excel and for which you want to be known.
3) NO…Start saying NO
One of the biggest obstacles to career success and happiness, is passion for what you are doing. When we do not have a clear direction for our careers, it is easy to take assignments that others think are “good for you.” Sometimes, these “good for you” projects really aren’t. They are good for the team or for your manager. However, if you just say yes, without thinking about the opportunity cost, you lose. For your next project, before you say yes, write down the 5 NEW skills you will build if you take on this project. If you can’t think of at least three, talk with your boss about how you can rework the project so that it can help you grow in your development areas while also leveraging your strengths.
For example, if you are asked to organize the next team outing and you planned the last one, politely decline and position it as a win win. “Since I already planned an event, I’d like to give this opportunity to some of the newer members on our team. It would be a great way for them to get exposure to the rest of the team.” Instead, volunteer for a more strategic role that will help you build your skills instead.
=> Say NO to projects that won’t build your skills.
4) EXPECT your WORTH.
Understand what people with your skills are earning in the marketplace. Do some market research on what people in your role and with your level of experience are doing and earning using some of the tools mentioned in the Negotiation 101. Knowledge is power and can give you the leverage you need.
=> Do some competitive research for YOU.
5) YOU 2.0
This is the lynchpin strategy to making the money you deserve. You must always be learning. Be curious, think about what are the big trends in your industry and start researching them. Start learning those must have skills for your industry. Start networking off and on line with the key decision makers in your company and in your industry. Be open to improving your skills and your professional presence. Be scrappy and find a way to transform situations that aren’t ideal for you into ones that are. Have a vision for who you want to be and tenaciously go after it!
=> Keep learning and hustling.
Believing in you,